Sometimes the internet is a wonderful thing. Without it, I never would have stumbled across Betty Belts, by designer Donna van Hoesslin. These belts are not only perfect for Earth Week, but they’re pretty much perfect in every sense of the word.
I tracked down Donna to see if she’d answer some of my silly questions about her line and her life! Here’s what we got up to:
Name: Donna von Hoesslin
Location: Ventura, California
Miss Elle: Hi Donna!
So you’re the genius behind “Betty Belts” and “Betty B. Ocean Inspired Accessories”! Your products are not only aesthetic wonders, but so many of them are sustainable/recycled/repurposed! How did you get the idea to start your business?
Donna von Huesslin: I discovered surfing at the age of 31. It changed my life to the extent that I left Berlin after 17 years and moved back to California, where I was born. I had some design and marketing experience and wanted to do something that would reflect my love of the ocean and keep me close to it.
ME: What were you doing before?
DvH: I was many things, a jazz and pop singer, translator of screenplays for the German dubbing industry, stage extra at the Berlin Opera, bartender/waitress (of course!) and many years ago I designed a small clothing line made from vintage saris. Back then I was only 20 and had no business acumen whatsoever, so I gave up after a few years.
ME: Are you a gigantic belt lover (like myself)? What’s your favorite way to wear your products?
DvH: I love wearing my belts on the hips or waist and in between as well, depending on the clothes. I wear them to dress up jeans and a top and also to complete a dress. They are great with long yoke tops and dresses too. My belts are a great way to spice up any outfit consisting of solids. My favorite is the coconut “Zuri” belt: instant hourglass figure. What girl doesn’t want that? Plus it’s named after an inspiring woman, like many of my designs are.
My favorite jewelry pieces right now are my sea glass designs made from beach glass found on my local beaches and my Siena recycled glass earrings which go with everything.
Siena Recyled Glass Earrings
ME: I would ask about your inspiration behind your designs, but after hearing that you’d like to “get a sunset surf in” at the end of the day pretty much answers my question. How long have you been in love with the waves?
DvH: Since 1999, when I rode my first ones (on my belly) while on tour in Cornwall, England.
But I loved the ocean before that, was simply always too intimidated by it’s power, vastness and depth combined with my natural born lack of coordination. After those first waves ridden, it was ON. And it didn’t take long to progress to standing up. Even for someone as uncoordinated as myself.
ME: What’s in the future for Betty Belts and Betty B. Ocean Inspired Accessories?
DvH: I want to reach out to more ocean lovers everywhere who enjoy my designs.
I want to galvanize the Betty Tribe and inspire many.
I have been involved in some interesting clean water projects in Bali and look forward to seeing them grow and become a model for other communities around the world. See more at www.eastbalipovertyproject.com
ME: Best of luck to you and your beautiful products!
You can find all of Betty Belts’ products at BettyBelts.com!